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be more picturesque in their expressions, if the one and the other knew how to unite a profound knowledge of the two arts.

The ancients, and especially the GREEKS, whose language is so poetic, and whose pictures are so just, knew nothing of the fine facility of our modern poets; who, by heaping together a number of images and figures, taken at random, presume to attribute to themselves the expression of CORREGio, and cry out, “ We also are painters.” Let them read what MR. WEBB has wrote on the beautiful in painting. Nothing better proves what I advance than the manner in which he explains his principles. He elucidates almost all of them by some passage drawn from the great poets of antiquity, and, by this method, shews us that those men of superior genius had a true knowledge of the beautiful and sublime in the arts; very different, doubtless, from the idea that is form’d of it by those of our modern poets, who imitate Durer in painting the GRACES, or Rubens in expressing that ideal beauty which should characterize a goddess, or the highest degree of moral beauty.

But to return to the arts, which are my present subject. How I pity the unfeeling landscapepainter, whom the sublime pictures of THOMSON cannot inspire! In reading the descriptions of that great master, we seem to see the paintings of our most famous artists. We might transpose on the canvas, and realise what he describes in his variegated

Sometimes the simplicity of BERCHEM, of POTTER, or Roos; sometimes the grace and amenity of LORRAIN; frequently the great and noble character of POUSSIN; and then, by that contrast so important in the effect, the gloomy and savage tone of SALVATOR ROSA. Give me leave, on this occasion, to revive the remembrance of one of our poets, almost forgotten ; BROCKES, who followed NATURE even in her least details, was endowed with lively and delicate sensations, felt the most gentle impressions, and was moved by the most trivial circumstances. A plant cover'd with dew, and illumin’d by a bright ray of the sun, roused his enthusiasm. A bird, complaining for the loss of her young ones, fillid him with emotion. His pieces, it is true, are liable to objection, by being too study'd; but they are nevertheless a rich magazine of pictures and images borrow'd from NATURE, and where we behold her, as in a faithful mirror, which suppresses nothing that is offer'd to it.


Must we then, some artists will say, with a scornful smile-must we then join to so much necessary study, that which belongs to scholars? Must we read that we may paint? If you ask that question, what need is there to reply !-O! you can paint, without

any such aid, the remains of a table, and a parcel of drunken peasants. There labour to produce the effects of the clare obscure, and the magic of colouring, and you will have at least, without fatiguing your genius, the merit of a brilliant execution. But do not aspire to charm the mind, and touch the heart. Never expect more

than the tribute of the eye for what is merely the work of the hand.

These, my dear friend, are the observations that my studies have produced. This is the plan that I have form’d. The success does not depend on my desires alone. It is not to myself, but to the public, that belongs the right of judging me. But this I think I can maintain, that the most ready and sure method is to work, alternately, after the chef d'œuvres of the great masters, and after NATURE ; and thus learn to compare the most beautiful expressions of art with nature itself, and the beauties of nature with the resources of art.

If the situations I have been in have render'd it impossible for me to proceed any further, I feel at least, with a religious awe, how many reflections and studies are necessary to attain the sublime heights of a divine art. What then must be the fate of those who do not join an inflexible labour to an habitual meditation ? Let the artist, who despises or neglects these important means, make no pretension to the recompence due to active and sensible minds. There is no reputation for him to whom a taste for his art does not become his ruling passion ; to whom the hours he employs in its cultivation are not the most delicious of his life ; to whom the study of it does not constitute his real existence, and his primary happiness ; to whom the society of artists is not, of all others, the most pleasing; to him whose watchings, or dreams in the night, are not occupy'd with the ideas of his art, who, in the morning, does not fly with fresh transport to his painting-room. But, above all others, unhappy is he who descends to flatter the corrupt taste of the age in which he lives, who delights himself with applauded trifles, who does not labour for true glory, and the admiration of posterity. Never will he be admired. by it; his name will never be repeated; his works will never fire the imagination, nor touch the hearts of those fortunate mortals who cherish the arts, who honour their favourites, and search after their works.

This letter has already pass'd the bounds I prescribed; suffer me, however, sir, to add the wishes I long since form’d for the success of an enterprize that would doubtless contribute to the progress of the arts of design. The young

artists seem to me to desire methods of instruction that are clear and concise. I cou'd wish that books of the elements were composed for the use of scholars and masters. We have some excellent works, but they are neither sufficiently simple nor practical for beginners. In the work I propose, the fundamental rules of the art shou'd be first laid down, with all the perspicuity and all the precision possible, and then apply'd to different examples ; it will be necessary that these examples be taken from the engravings made after the best pictures of the great masters. In

In every branch of the art the most certain method shou'd be explain'd, the principal works and most celebrated artists of that sort pointed out. The elements of PREYSLER

are almost generally adopted in Germany; young people are tormented with them ; the contours of that master, however, are frequently incorrect, and his heads have a vulgar character. Some elements of designing that have appeared in the countries where the arts are exercised, offer examples that can be no sure guide to the young artist, as the outline is too much neglected, and correctness is the basis on which instruction shou'd be founded. I think it wou'd be likewise of consequence, if, to the methods of which I have here given an idea, there were added a collection of exact descriptions of the best pictures there are of every kind, and of the engravings of those pictures, made with the greatest care. An examination of these works, according to the true principles of the art, wou'd be an excellent lesson. It wou'd be difficult, it is true, to extend it to the colouring ; but the harmony of the clare obscure might be there discussed, and the observations on the connection that it has with colouring, wou'd supply the defect, in part, and cou'd not fail to interest and instruct the artist and the connoisseur. It wou'd be essential in the plan I here propose, not to chuse any but the best compositions of every age, and to dwell on those only in which the character of the time, and the school, are particularly mark’d.

The descriptions we find in the treatise of Boydel, in the writings of WINKELMAN, of HAGEDORN, RICHARDSON, and some others, may serve as models. That of the altar-piece of the chev.


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